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|| News Item: Posted 2008-09-04

Olympic Moments: Robert Beck
'They were so proud to converse with us in our language.'

By Robert Beck, Sports Illustrated

Photo by

Robert Beck and Kojo Kinno at the Great Wall in China.
The Olympics were interesting. I loved watching the people. The local people. Riding their bikes everywhere. Riding their bikes with their families on board, one in front and one or two in back. I loved the way they greeted us and helped us. "This way, please sir." "Please sir, enjoy your apple outside." "We are welcome you to the MPC now. Thank you." They were so proud to converse with us in our language. They were given American names in grade school if they learned English. Frank. Amelia. Erin, Ivy and Veronica. Their given Chinese names? Good luck. I tried. Kojo tried. We rarely would get them right. The inflections were too delicate.

They were in awe of the Nest and the Water Cube. The dancing waters between them and the spectacle beheld within. They had never seen anything like it. They cheered for their teams. Louder than any college football fan. "Jia you! Chi-na! Jia you! Chi-na! Jia You! Chi-na!" I rooted for them. "Jia you! Chi-na!" became my morning mantra.

Beijing was a beautiful mix of old and new. Mostly modern buildings with people who seem to be clinging to the 50s and 60s. The bikes. The mopeds. The homemade three-wheelers. No mountain bikes. No ten speeds. These were bikes as Schwinn intended them to be. No colored spandex on the riders. The streets were spotless. No litter. No hubcaps or pieces of tires. No butts or beer cans.

Umbrellas were for the sun. Pastel colored plastic ponchos popped on when it rained. Pinks, yellows, greens and blues. What's Gore-Tex?

I'd like to go back. We all worked such long days there we didn't have time to get out and see much off the beaten path. Will it be the same next time?

Related Links:
Beck's member page

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